WASHINGTON Oct 26 President Barack Obama said
on Friday a bipartisan panel's deficit reduction recommendation
went too far on spending cuts, especially for defense, but set
the right tone by also proposing revenue increases.
Obama said the plan put forward by the bipartisan
Simpson-Bowles commission - and held out by some as a model
compromise that distributes the pain evenly - cut defense
spending too deeply.
"They wanted ... defense cuts that were steeper than I felt
comfortable with as commander in chief," he said.
The president, who is in a tight re-election battle with
Republican challenger Mitt Romney, said he would be eager to
re-engage congressional Republicans in negotiations to achieve a
broad deficit reduction deal right away. A deal could be
accomplished in as little as four months, he said.
"I've said to folks, I'll wash (House Speaker) John
Boehner's car, I'll walk (Republican Senate leader) Mitch
McConnell's dog, I'll do whatever is required to get this done,"
Obama said in an interview with radio host Michael Smerconish
that was released on Friday.
"The key that the American people want from us right now is
for us to tackle some big challenges that we face in a
common-sense, balanced, sensible way," the president said.
Whatever the outcome of the Nov. 6 election, the United
States faces a sharp fiscal tightening at the end of the year.
Unless Congress and the administration act, $109 billion in
spending cuts are due to go into effect and tax rates will rise.
Both Obama and Republicans say they want to avoid the
"fiscal cliff." But Democrats want to limit spending cuts in
social welfare programs and Republicans object to letting tax
rates rise for those earning above $250,000 a year.
Obama also said eliminating the popular tax deductions for
interest paid on home loans or for charitable gifts, as the
proposal suggests, goes "too far."
His own proposal took the basic framework of the
Simpson-Bowles plan and "tweaked it," he said.
Obama raised the possibility this week that if re-elected,
he would take another run at the "grand bargain" that eluded
Washington in 2011. The goal of such a deal would be to achieve
$4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.